Hiking opportunities don’t have to involve major trips

Valley in Yellowstone
This overlook in Yellowstone was one of my favorite views during our trip there in summer 2016.

I would prefer to be hiking in new areas, taking treks to beautiful places across the country that I haven’t experienced yet. So I often have to remind myself that hiking opportunities don’t have to involve significant trips, that sometimes the ones found close to home can fill the void.

Yellowstone view
A hike away from the crowds provided a beautiful view of Yellowstone National Park’s grandeur.

In a four-season state like Michigan, we suffer through cold days when snow and ice cover the hiking trails, or they are a muddy slop when the sun finally starts to peak through more, as it is now that we’ve hit March.

Tree covered in snow
While I dislike cold weather, snowshoeing in the winter does provide some unique experiences.

Some of my favorite hikes have been in places like Yellowstone, where Jessi, our daughter, and I hiked as much as possible to find incredible places closer to nature and further away from the crowds.

It’s tougher for us to get away during the winter months for a lot of different reasons. In Michigan, winter often means hibernating on the couch much more than I should, but I dislike being cold.

Flooded, muddy forest trail
This flooded, muddy trail near where we live made for an interesting, yet messy hike recently.

Still, Jessi does a decent job of encouraging me to get out on snowshoes, which helps. And once the snow starts to disappear and we start moving toward the spring thaw, it’s easier to hit the trails, even though you have to be ready to deal with flooded areas that have altered the landscape enough that sometimes you have to reroute or backtrack. Plus, you have to remember to wear clothes and boots that you don’t mind getting muddy.

I honestly don’t have a good excuse not to get out and hike year-round, because hiking opportunities exist within just a few miles of my house. It’s really more about finding the motivation. Here are a few things that have helped me, and I thought it might help others, too:

Woman standing on boardwalk
While hiking near home last year, we found a boardwalk had been turned into a climbing obstacle by the spring flood.
  • The feelings of getting away can be the same — I hike because it gets me away from the stress of day-to-day life, both at work and at home. Reconnecting with the peace and quiet of nature is rewarding to the soul.
  • The exercise is still worthwhile — When I can’t do my preferred workouts of hiking or biking due to weather conditions, I use an indoor exercise bike and do strength training in my house. But it’s just not the same as a substantial hike in nature’s gym.
  • The steps earned can help with challenges — As silly as it seems, the Global Challenges I join through the Samsung Gear and exercise app I use motivate me. It doesn’t matter one iota to the world where I rank in those “contests,” but it still gets me moving because it matters to me.
  • You can stay ready for the “better” hikes — Seasons are cyclical, and we will eventually see much more pleasant weather. When that happens, I want to be ready to take longer hikes, either close to home or during a major trip. That means staying in shape to do so.

That’s just a short list, and I could probably add more, but I need to get ready to go for a hike. At only 35 degrees, it’s much colder this afternoon than I like, but the sun is shining and I can hear the trails calling me!


I went for a hike and decided to vlog about it:

By the way, if you’re looking for some great hiking poles that can be collapsed for easier travel, we use and recommend Montem Ultrastrong Cork Trekking Poles. When you follow that link, use our code (LNT10) for 10% off your order!

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